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JD Powers Study: Product Availability and Support Drive Agency Satisfaction with Insurers

Source: JD Powers and Associates

Posted on 27 Mar 2009

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Offering various types of insurance policies that meet diverse customer needs and ensuring that efficient, courteous and knowledgeable contacts are available have a particularly strong impact on overall agent satisfaction with insurance companies, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Insurance Agency Satisfaction StudySM.

The inaugural study measures the satisfaction of independent insurance agents and agency staff with the personal property and casualty insurance companies they represent. Agent satisfaction is examined across six factors. In order of importance, they are: key carrier contacts (32%), policy offering (23%); claims (16%); technology (13%); price (10%); and compensation (5%).

“Although it may seem that compensation would be the primary driver of agent satisfaction, in fact, elements that are related to agent support and products are the key differentiators,” said Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Insurers that provide helpful and knowledgeable business contacts and provide a variety of policy offerings help to better meet the needs of consumers, which leads to greater levels of satisfaction among agents.”

The study finds that agent satisfaction typically increases the more often agents interact with the business contact from their insurance company. Agents prefer to receive business contacts via phone or e-mail at least once or twice a month. However, satisfaction levels are particularly high when the business contact visits more than once per month. In 2009, fewer than 15 percent of agents report receiving such frequent visits.

“Contacting agents on a regular basis to provide support is critical for an insurance company, particularly when it comes to business growth,” said Bowler. “Agent satisfaction is very closely linked to the overall business growth of an insurer, as agents have tremendous influence over policyholders when it comes to switching providers. In fact, 60 percent of consumers report that they would follow their agent recommendation to switch to a new insurance company. Clearly, agent satisfaction can have a major impact on policy growth for an insurance company.”

In particular, as agent satisfaction increases, the likelihood of agents increasing their premium business with an insurance company also rises. In 2009, nearly 70 percent of agents with satisfaction scores averaging more than 800 points on a 1,000-point scale indicate they intend to increase business with the insurance company. In contrast, only 28 percent of agents with scores averaging 600 points or less indicate the same.